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Sunday, December 28, 2008

More Best of 2008

Continuing the theme....

The first picture here is of a Shrimp Scampi Pasta I whipped up one night. I wasnt going to take a picture but the wife insisted so there ya go.

The rest are pics of the first Prime Rib Roast I ever cooked. I was a bit stymied that my thermometer only went as low as 140 where as most recipes called for the roast to be removed at 120. I winged it and just kind of went with my gut feel and it ended up being perfect! For the price I am not so sure I will ever do one again but it did turn out wonderfully.

Best of 2008

Ok Im bluffing....this is really another edition of "Catching Up" but I thought I would make it seasonally topical.

Will probably have to do this in 2 posts, sorry Ive been neglecting this lately but I promise 2009 will be a great year for this blog.

Here goes.....

Here are some pictures from Thanksgiving using my previously posted recipe for Turkey. As always it was a smashing success! I decided though after about 10 years of using the Bag Method and every conceivable option that can be optionized; that next year I am going to do a good ole fashioned roasted turkey with stuffing.

And for no particular reason here is a picture of my youngest son sporting the Kings jersey and posing in front of his favorite set of wheels.

Monday, November 17, 2008

My World Famous Thanksgiving Turkey Recipe

I Post this every year so once again here you go. This year for my booze I will be using Triple Sec and to match the theme will be stuffing the bird with mushrooms and oranges/tangerines/apricots. Whichever fruit looks best upon the date of purchase. I might even do an Orange Marmalade glaze but that will be a last minute knee jerk reaction.

Thanksgiving Turkey Recipe

Prep Work-Make up some Herb Butter. I use parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme(easy to remember…just like in the Simon and Garfunkel song.) You can also add Garlic and Shallots. I usually make this a couple of days ahead if time. Save the leftovers…it will make the greatest cheese/herb bread you’ve ever had. Use a processor and fine chop/mince any combination of Onion, Celery, Carrots, Garlic, and Shallots. Make sure you don’t skimp on the garlic.

Take your turkey and prepare according to directions on bag(wash dry remove giblets neck etc etc etc).
When ready, take your hands and slowly loosen the skin around the breasts of the turkey. Work slow and deliberate and if needed use a paring knife to cut through any membrane. Try not to tear it as you're really looking to create a “pouch.”
Once that’s done take your room temperature/soft herb butter and liberally smear it under the turkey breast skin. Use as much as possible and even let it clump in pockets. Be gentle though and try not to tear the skin. The more you can use the better it will be. A lot will end up in the wing/thigh areas and that’s fine. You can also take some of the herb butter and apply it in the cavity.

Take some of the onion/garlic mixture and try and put some of the under the skin as well….wont be as easy to do as the herb butter but do what you can. Take the rest of the onion mixture and place it in the cavity. On top of the mixture place some whole herbs on top of the mixture…what ever you have leftover from the herb butter is fine as well. You can also add mushrooms as well which will make the gravy a Beer/Mushroom gravy or a Red Wine Mushroom Gravy depending on what alcohol you use in the next step.

After that take any type of alcohol beverage….beer, wine, sherry, etc etc and pour about a cup or two in the cavity. Be sure to seal the tail end of the turkey if needed so the cavity creates a pocket. Use toothpicks or twine if needed. Basically this step creates an interior steam pocket that will flavor the meat and the juice for use in the gravy. After you’ve poured the alcohol truss the bird with twine. You’re almost done now!

Next take Salt and Pepper and any other spices you like (Paul Prudhomes Poultry Magic is a good one to use and I’m sure Emeril probably has something out now as well) and dust the outside of the bird. Put into a cooking bag and follow the directions from there.

For the gravy you can do it two ways. I use an aluminum turkey tray when I cook my turkey so I simply take the turkey out of the bag and scrape out all the mixture from the cavity and any skin/meat that’s in the bag and pour it into the pan for a home style gravy. Or you can make a bit classier gravy by straining all of the juice through a cheesecloth and using the stock to make a cream type smooth gravy. Either way is fine….they’ll both be delicious. If you used mushroom take them out and set aside. They’ll serve as a nice side dish or garnish even.

Other tips-For the butter use some of the more expensive European Butter. It’s got higher fat content and will taste much better. Pflugra butter is one brand if I’m not mistaken. They also have Irish and Danish butter as well.
For the alcohol: use good quality stuff. A cheap wine isn’t going to be nearly as impressive as if you use some quality stuff. Same goes for the beer if you use it-get a good thick dark Guinness style beer.

When making the gravy… the least go with half and half. If Possible use whole cream.

If anyone has any questions or wants to add their two cents feel free!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Another Edition of Catching up

Here are a couple of month worth of pics Ive been neglecting to post. All of them fall in food related category. I will post some recaps and descriptions later. Within the next week or so I will also post some pics from the trip to Joshua Tree I took with the family.

Here we have a grilled NY Strip with some Pineapple Shrimp I cooked using the BBQ Wok with BBQed Eggplant and Roasted Corn. The Wine was Grove Street Meritage which if hazy memory serves must not have been all the remarkable. I think it was on special at Henry's Market and an impulse buy.

Ahhhh, this is my favorite chicken dish of all time. I sliced some chicken breasts into strips and marinated overnight it in Buttermilk, Powdered Ranch Dressing Mix, Green Onions, and Garlic. Draining the milk I then use the Chef Paul BBQ Seasoning to coat the chicken to my liking and throw it on the grill. You will never get a more tender chicken. I really should try it with dark meat some time. The other dish is another shrimp stir fry using the BBQ Wok with some locally produced baby peppers. Rounding out the dish is my wife's wonderful Japanese Style potato salad and sun dried tomato Couscous. If you are making any type of Potato or Macaroni Salad and really want to wow your guest by all means use Japanese Mayonnaise. Its extra creamy and extra rich-beats the heck out of miracle whip by a mile.

This is a Rib Eye stuffed with garlic I did...I used a red pepper just to make the picture look good. While the idea of garlic in steak seems like a natural fit its really a symbolic gesture as I cook the steaks at high heat for a short time thus the garlic really never reached the heat needed to assimilate the flavors. But its the thought that counts right?

Just a picture to show the texture and the medium rare style. One other tip I will give her that I own the wife for-go to your local asian market and pick up a bottle of premium soy sauce...not the cheap korean stuff but the real honest to goodness premium japanese soy sauce. On steak it brings out some amazing flavors you just wont get with table salt. While you are there pick up the jappo mayo as well!

As Winter approaches I get to do a bit of baking and one of my favorites are Cinnamon Pull Aparts or Monkey Balls as we used to call them as kids. You can do it easily by using canned biscuit dough but I went a step up and made my own dough. I kept it simple as a start but I will generally put some type of booze in the with caramel glaze....Baileys or Rum works especially well.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Cool Wine Site I found

With the economy taking a turn for the worse I envision my wine budget heading south as well. Doing a bit of surfing found this wine blog that I'm sure will come in handy. Basically this guy checks out all the Cheap TJ's wine and posts a review for each. One day I promise Ill get back to reviewing Wines and Posting Food Pics.

Anyhow here is the link...

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Loved This Clip

I try not to get into politics on my blog as the last thing I want is a bunch of leftist and right wingers flooding in with comments. That said I found this segment with John Stossel that really summed up today's current political climate and since I hadn't posted in quite some time figured what the heck. For the Record-I will be posting some recent food items later in the week as recently the blog has taken a distinct non-food related turn.

Anyhow here is the clip....Enjoy!

Friday, October 10, 2008

The Power of the Internet

Got a cool email the other day from one of the artists I featured on my Guitar Post last month. Here it is.

i read your thoughts on my music and i want to tell you that i often composed and played music for children...impronte was recorded in '99 and was a demo... i contacted gp only to have a feedback and then they feature in italy if you aren't a virtuoso you don't get anyone checking you... so i'm happy for gp mag and i want thank you for your idea on my music.

i'll load some other songs and any your comment will be welcome.
ciao again

How cool is that? Fatboy Guitar from Italy wrote me personally. Kind of funny. My review of the clip was...

Makes me want to drink a latte and sleep with a college co-ed not of my own racial group on a rainy winter day. I can swear this is the same guy who plays "froggie went a courtin'" on my sons CD of greatest children songs.

Good stuff....Fatboy if you are reading send me a case of Italian Red Wine and I'll personally see that your work is featured on this blog Monthly!

Anyhow, here is Fatboy's website. He encouraged all of our readers to help themselves to the free downloads and said there would be more up shortly. Now if I could only get Paul McCartney or Dhani Harrison to email me I'd be all set.

Here is his MySpace site with the songs and more info.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Some Assorted Guitar selections

Each month Guitar Player mag has some indie/unknown bands they choose for a myriad of reasons. Lots of cool stuff here and once again reason #17272651 why the internet has changed the world in too many ways to count.

Anyhow, here are the Links and my thoughts. On Your Feet

Kind of poppy with some great harmonies. Weird that guitar player chose this song as its the drumming that really stands out for me. Kind of reminds me of a mix between the Byrds and Sebadoh. Mallet Face
A bit too much studio sounding for my liking with bass and what not but the use of the tremolo and harmonics is outstanding. The song itself harkens "Discipline" era King Crimson. Impronte /Smoke on the Water

Makes me want to drink a latte and sleep with a college co-ed not of my own racial group on a rainy winter day. I can swear this is the same guy who plays "froggie went a courtin'" on my sons CD of greatest children songs. Lil Bing vs El Diabloe

One day I hope I can make the guitar scream like this guy can. Sure I can make a guitar scream....but generally theyre screams of agony telling me to stop playing it and never pick it up again. Riot

I loved this song. Loved the bass and the no nonsense drums. Cant really compare to the other songs but if Green Day and the Offspring can make it big is there any reason these guys cant?
Reminds me of the intro to the old Tom Hatten hosted Sunday Afternoon Movie that used to be on Channel 5. I can hear him now giving movie trivia tidbits about "The very long, long trailer" and "the Three Stooges in Outer Space." Good Life Bar

I really dug this track...not quite as polished as some of the other jazzy guitar songs included and the guitar seems to be a little bit edgier and moody. Really cool bass as well.

These guys are a cover band but damn I love this song. Arguably my favorite Blues song of All time.

Another good blues cover song from the same band. YouTube - The Harry Coffey band - Matchbox Live

Anyhow, Im home sick today so thought Id share some of the songs with ya. Enjoy!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Rick Wright RIP

Never mentioned but one of my favorite bands is Pink Floyd. Today their keyboard player Rick Wright died of Cancer. In his memory here are some cool clips and some amazon picks for Rick Wright related Items.

PF-Obscured By Clouds

Probably the most Wright heavy record Floyd record with some nice collaborations on the songs Stay and Burning Bridges. This is probably the mellowest Floyd Album there is along with Meddle. Almost falls into the adult contemporary pop category in some areas.

Broken China

Moody and dark...almost sounds like Peter Gabriel on Quaaludes.

Remember That Night

Great Sound Quality with lots of guests and surprises. Gilmour and Wright hit on all cylinders and having a great time. Maybe the best place to start for Rick Wright/Gilmour noobs if there is such a thing.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Some more Japan

Just a couple more pics I didnt get around to posting from Japan....Some from the awesome Yakiniku place we visited, a picture of the cuban cigar I smoked, and a picture of the In-Raws. Can you spot my son?

Lotsa Catchin' Up To Do

Some pics and comments from the Labor Day Bbg.

Here are some ribs I did for the big event. The first pics are the ribs taken from the foil after being steamed with beer on low heat for a couple and being placed into the Texas Smoker.

Here are the ribs after a couple of hours in the smoker....nice color eh?

Here are some lamb chops that were done in the smoker. Mega-Kudos to my sister in law who really has the gift of lamb. The two pictures is the lamb platter as well as one of the chops cut open to show the texture and color.

The pic to the left was my cousins mustard tri tip. Basically he cover an entire tri tip with kosher salt and mustard and cooks on the grill for a couple of hours. Sorry I didnt get a picture after it was cooked...we did the tri tip after everything else and it was a bit late in the day with beer, wine, and margaritas liberally flowing. My memory of the event was a bit hazy to say the least.

Coming soon-some more pics from Japan and another Surf and Turf BBQ.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Back from Japan

Back from Japan with some pics.

Here is the ultra-famous Japanese Beer Vending Machine. Believe it or not this was the first time in my 3 times to Japan that Ive seen one.

This was a beautiful little pond that was off the side of one of the many shrine.

You will never get a fresher batch of sea snails then those I experienced. We literally picked the snails at the beach, washed and boiled them, did the snail removal and ate them tempura style in about an hour time frame. For the record...they tasted a bit like clams.

This was some Hayama Beef. Its about 1 rung below Kobe beef on the quality beef scale. This package would cost roughly 20 bucks in the US.

I just found this funny...the punchline almost writes itself.

Monday, June 16, 2008

More Catching up....

Where has the time gone? When I started this blog thing no one told me I had to do update it every month. Anyhow, here are some recent food items I did recently. One was a simple lemon garlic type piccata thing with TJs tri-color tortellini. I was fortunate enough to buy a case of Red Flyer at $2.99 a bottle. Its better then most 15 dollar wines Ive had. Im down to 4 bottles and now lamenting not buying 2 cases. The other item was some salmon and grilled shrimp stir fry using the BBQ Basket. There is nothing better then Salmon with the Chef Paul Salmon Seasoning. I have go get around to picking up some of the Copper River Salmon as its amazing. The stuff I used was SteelHead or Chinook. Cant remember but any salmon with the Chef Pauls is amazing. Works great with Shrimp as well. I also have been trying to get into some white wines but have yet to find one I really enjoy. If you know a good semi inexpensive post or email me.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Catching Up

Thought Id post some pictures Ive been meaning to get up so tonight is the magical night.

The first here is young Alex giving his wine the swirl test and getting a good look at the color. He prefers heavy Cabs from the Rutherford Valley although recently is becoming more interested in Spanish Jumilas.

This was fish I did one night on a whim. If memory serves correctly the White Fish was Mahi while the chunk of meat the looks like steak is actually tuna. They were both frozen and defrosted, since the BBQ season is just starting it served as a good lesson never to BBQ frozen fish if all possible. Seriously, though it looked passable the difference between fresh and frozen was very apparent. The Veggies came out great though as we used some locally grown baby peppers with mushrooms and onion cooked in the BBQ Wok. Nothing like a roasted pepper. The sweet flavor is so distinctive and the smell unforgettable. The BBQ wok is a great tool for roasting smaller cut veggies that would normally fall through the grate.

This picture is of one of the biggest artichokes Ive ever seen. It was on Sale for 99 cents so I had to buy it. Quick tip for a great Choke Dip-mix some Salsa Verde with Lime Juice and add Japanese Mayo. Delicious! Anyhow I put the beer can in there just to get an idea of the size. It was basically bigger then a softball and we couldn't eat it at one sitting. Quick and easy artichoke primer-boil some garlic, black pepper, lemon, and salt and place the artichoke stem side up in the steam rack. Some artichokes have the little pointy things on the end that you need to cut off with a chefs knife but the one picture was pretty much ready to go right off the back and required no prep at all really. We used the heart the next night for a Balsamic Vinaigrette Salad topped with Bronzed Chicken.

This was a Lemon Pepper Farfalle Pasta in a Garlic Caper sauce with some fresh sliced tomatoes, parsley, with some grated imported Italian asiago. We had the ingredients in the pantry and cooked it up on a whim we had nothing else for dinner. I was so proud of it I decided to post the picture here in one of my typical self back patting moments.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Another night, another BBQ

Last night did some Mahi with Tuna and assorted baby peppers and a balsamic vinaigrette salad with heirloom tomatoes. Truth be told the Mahi and Tuna were both frozen and bought at Trader Joe and I had forgotten the world of difference between fresh and frozen but it came out great so here goes. The Mahi I simply grilled using a bbw basket. Nothing crazy there. The tuna however I used the Chef Paul BBQ seasoning and cooked on the Cedar Plank. It was good but the seasoning is a bit spicier then your run of the mill typical bbq seasoning. Next time Ill probably use 1/2 of the bbq seasoning and add some lemon pepper. The Cedar Plank does add a lot of flavor but for super firm fish like tuna its kind of a weird mix of flavor/texture. Its much better suited for Salmon thats for sure. The salad was nothing crazy but Heirloom tomatoes are very interesting as they vary in all sorts of sizes, colors, textures, etc etc. If you've never tried them its certainly an interesting experience. As for the veggies I used the BBQ wok to grill some assorted baby peppers. brown mushrooms, asparagus, and sweet Maui onion. Back in the day I would have simply tried to put these straight on the grill but after seeing so many veggies fall through the grate I finally smarted up and got the Wok. It really is a must own for all BBQ enthusiasts. So many things you can do with it and it really is hassle free as it gets.

The wine was simply OK. I actually gave the Kirkland/Marquis Phillips Shiraz a bit higher rating. A bit more complex with a much truer flavor. Cant complain as it was only 9 bucks a bottle but as for as cheap shiraz's go the Marquis Phillips is still my pick of the litter.


Friday, March 28, 2008

First BBQ of the Season!

Was able to do my first real legitimate BBQ of the season. Fresh Wild Salmon and Prime Baseball Filet's. Arguably the best job on Salmon Ive ever done using the cedar plank method. I swear to god Chef Pauls Salmon Magic is the pent-ultimate seasoning since the dawn of man for Salmon. You simply cant go wrong. I used RinkRats method for the filet's and it worked like a charm. Probably the closest Ive come to re-creating the Clearmans Northwoods Inn style of steak. All in all I'm very pleased with my first go round of the BBQ season. The wine was OK simply using a pretty standard bottle of Penfolds Cab/Shiraz blend. I found a couple of internet friends who work at Trader Joes so this summer will most likely feature a lot of wine varietals from them. Considering the economy isnt exactly firing on all cylinders this may be "Summer of the Budget Wine." And before I sign off I leave a personal message for LGKs Homer-Homer; I hereby give you full permission to use any of the pictures here as your next avatar. Furthermore-We will have you and Mrs Homer over soon for a future blog addition. Cheers!

Monday, March 10, 2008

Couple of Quick Wine Reviews

Rays Stations

The people at Wine Pavilion really hyped this wine and that may have been its undoing. Not to say its a bad wine...for the price Its a pretty good deal. I had this on Saturday and typing this on Monday AM I probably didnt do any favors to the reader by waiting so long as I really cant recall any details that made it worth. Better then Fetzer for sure.

While I was there I picked up another bottle that was lower priced on a whim...and what a whim it was!

This wine tasted very similar to the Ghost Pines wine I reviewed a couple of months ago but at 1/2 the price. Very nice balance and very smooth, it had more wood/oak overtones then the fruit bomb it was advertised as. I had it with some BBQed chicken and it was marvelous. Even the wife commented on how compared to the previous nights Ray Station the Lodi Reds seemed to have a higher taste/feel to it. At the price I really should go back to the Wine Pavilion and stock up. Its only a couple bucks per bottle more then Yellowtail for crying out loud and at this price why not?

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Gyu Kaku

No secret Im a big fan of Korean BBQ as well as Japanese BBQ more commonly referred to as Yakiniku..The wife found a Yakiniku chain that has various locals around the southland as well as Japan and Hawaii that had recently opened in Huntington Beach called Gyu Kaku. We finally got a chance to leave the Kids with the grandparents for a couple of hours and visit for ourselves.

Its got a very upscale/hip decor and vibe to it. I don’t normally give two rips about decor but I do like the darker restaurants and this did have darker type feel to it. The location had no bar or waiting area/lounge which probably is a moot point since I wouldn’t be able to hang there anyhow.

This is the type of place where the middle of the table has a gas grill and you do all of your own cooking which is always great fun. They also have a happy hour which is a very cost effective way to enjoy all of the benefits without racking up a big tab. We started off with a couple of Kirin drafts which were only 2 bucks at Happy Hour prices. Their Food Item Happy Hour Menu rotates depending on the night of the week. Last Night was Liver, Japanese Pork Sausage, and something Called Ponzu Rosu which I later determined to be sliced Ribeye. I was tempted to order one of everything but the wife said there was no way she would eat the Liver. Instead of the liver we went with something a bit more tame in the form of thin sliced Beef Tongue along with the Sausage and Rosu.

I should mention as well that each place setting comes with a ceramic dish with 4 different areas-1 area for each of the tables 3 sauces and one to squeeze fresh lemon juice into. The Tongue dish also gets served with a small bowl of sesame oil and salt. The wife mentioned that traditionally Tongue is always the first dish to order at Yakiniku but when pressed as to why she admitted she didn’t know but speculated maybe it had to do with a fresh clean grill as opposed to later in the meal when bits of meat and fat tend to muck the grill up a bit. Truth be told even after the meal the grill was pretty clean but I suspect that has to do with the quality of the meat more then anything else.

Anyhow, this would not be my first time at having tongue and it always surprises me how good it is. Its thin sliced and appears to look a bit like Salami if I was pressed to make a comparison. As for the taste though you would never know it was tongue and actually tastes like a high quality cut of beef not all too different then Skirt Steak. Dipped into the sesame oil and with the squeeze of lemon its an amazing combination of flavor/texture. At this point the waiter brought our next course of Ponzu Rosu and Japanese Pork Sausage.

The Ponzu Rose was this medium/thin sliced Rib Eye that had a wonderful look to it. Red and slightly marbled it had a wonderful smell on the grill and even better taste. As it was the Happy Hour the ½ portion only cost about 3 buck if memory serves. Well worth the price and more I say! I tried it in all 3 of the dipping sauces-which was a sweet BBQ(of course their version of sweet BBQ is a far cry from the corn syrup laden candy that passes for BBQ at most places), another ponzu sauce, and a spicy soy sauce-that really wasn’t all that spicy comparatively speaking.

The pork sausage was also served with mustard-not some type of fancy mustard or Dijon mustard or white wine mustard but just your regular type mustard. The sausage itself was delicious but when contrasted with the tongue and the Rosu it was simply sausage. Once again in any other setting it would have been amazing and rated super high but the other items were so good it kind of made the sausage pale.

Almost forgot to mention we also ordered some Japanese Pickled Appetizers that served as a nice contrast between the heartiness of the beef. Basically it was some lightly marinated rice vinegar pickles, some type of spinach, bean sprouts, and what appeared to be bamboo shoots. In this area some of the better class Korean BBQs probably throw out better side dishes/salads but thats a small qualm.

Our next two items we ordered was Kalbi Short Ribs and NakaOchi Cubed Kalbi w.Spicy Miso. The Kalbi was such a high grade quality of beef I literally could have order 15 or 20 and easily probably have eaten it all. What makes this place great is not only is the meat high grade stuff but each dipping sauce brings out a different characteristic of the meat. To give an idea just dipping the Kalbi in Lemon Juice alone made a great pairing with the Taro Sweet Sauce and the lemon serving as an interesting contrast. The Japanese BBQ sauce was very good as well but with this caliber of meat it was almost wasted. The Cubed Kalbi wasn’t nearly as spicy as I would have though but the cubing/marbling of the beef was about as succulent as one could ever want. Its all about the marbling and these diced sized bites of meat were about as marbled as meat can get. These last two items were amazingly good-arguably some of the best beef Ive eaten.

We finished off with some Black Sesame Ice Cream that was very good as well. It tasted at times like toasted sesame(which you’d expect) but also had some coffee like overtones and it was a healthy serving to say the least.

Overall it was a wonderful place to dine and I mention to the wife many a times that evening if not for the fact we've got kids this would be a place I would go to on a monthly basis if not more. And with the Happy Hour Pricing the Tab came to about 55 bucks so certainly not a bank breaker by any means. Happy runs from 5pm to 6:30pm. as an FYI. The Website is GYU-KAKU - Japanese BBQ Dining == We Kandou it! ==. Has menu items, pics, and all the locations here in So Cal.